How does a vegetarian celebrate Turkey Day?

I’ve been a vegetarian for a stupidly long time. And stupidly is the right word choice here; I do not recommend it. I mean, if you are one for animal rights reasons or health reasons and it’s working out, that’s totally valid.*  But I am a vegetarian because I was a picky child. That’s it. My picky-ness just had a name that I liked saying to lunch ladies to make them think I was a smart six-year-old (we vegetarians are a notoriously snobby people), and I never grew out of it. Now, I spend a lot of time in dive bars surrounded by burgers and I love the smell of Dome Dogs, but if I try to eat meat I become immediately ill. After 24 years, my vegetarianism is essentially a food allergy.

Luckily, being a vegetarian has not interfered with my favorite past time: eating. There are so many delicious options out there for someone with an eclectic palate (I just pinned a recipe for kale quinoa pilaf and I am legit excited by it; how do I even have any friends). The world at large and the Cities in miniature are becoming more veggie-friendly. My friends and family are more or less used to me saying “Can I get that without bacon?” But there is this one time of year where it gets just a wee bit annoying.

This. This is that time. The week before Thanksgiving. People will talk about Thanksgiving or “Turkey Day” plans, and then shoot the vegetarian a look of pity. I call it the “Sad Turkey Side-Eye.”  Honestly, I don’t really think I’m missing out because Thanksgiving involves about fourteen side-dishes I can eat, and do (and how!). Also pie. So much pie. When I get the Sad Turkey Side-Eye, I find it best to respond with “I Will Be Eating Your Share Of Pie While You Are Taking an L-Tryptophan Nap” smirk.

I’d also just like to state, for the record, that I’ve never had Tofurkey.  I actually don’t know (or remember) what turkey tastes like. But I will not go near Tofurkey out of fear that it will taste like tofu, which I only enjoy if it’s completely masked by foods that taste like actual food.

tofurky package

If this looks appetizing to you, seek help.

Again, I’m totally cool just eating grandma’s jello salad and mom’s sweet potatoes and everyone’s pie. I am not missing out and neither, really, are the other vegetarians.**

Here’s the thing: Thanksgiving is not about turkey. It’s not even about pie. It’s about giving thanks for what we have, and I sure have a lot: a nice job, great family, wonderful friends, sweet apartment, lovely life, and the ability to turn my nose up at proffered food. This last one gets to me, particularly at this time of year, which is why I’m doing the Walk To End Hunger again this year. Thanksgiving morning, my mother and I will be up at the crack of dawn*** walking around the Mall of America. The funds we raise will be split among 12 local hunger charities.

Walk To End Hunger Logo

Half of us have far too much to eat on this one day, I am more than happy to continue; but let’s make sure every Minnesotan has enough to eat every day.

So how does a vegetarian celebrate Turkey Day? By confronting every Sad Turkey Side-Eye with a link to my fundraising page. By giving thanks. By Walking to End Hunger. And by eating the hell out of some pie.

*Unless you are a vegan. That is just crazy.
**Vegans are, though. Vegans are missing out on life.
***7 a.m. is the crack of dawn on holidays; also vegans are the worst.

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Something Spooky, or: The Science of October

I love October. Not only were two of my best friends born this month (love you, Lacy and ma!), it is the first month that truly feels like fall, my favorite season. And, because this is Minnesota, it is also the only month that feels like that.

Best of all, October is the season of spooky. It’s my preference to look ridiculous at all times, so I love any excuse to wear a costume. I love history, and weird, macabre history is the best. And c’mon, I super love candy.

So in order to make the most of life, I’ve decided to challenge myself to do something spooky – every day in October. I’m calling it…wait for it…

Something Spooky.

(and your reaction to this reveal is…)

Day 1: (Re)watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 episode, “Halloween.”

Look, I made up this challenge at about 9 pm on a Monday, so I had to start with what was available. Plus, what’s more fun than the episode of BtVS where the Scoobies become their costumes?

Day 2: Apartment Creep-ification Begins

I’m a dork (sentence could end there and still be true) for home decorating. I’m obsessed with Apartment Therapy and Young House Love and antique stores and artwork and crafting. Still, my Halloween decorating usually begins and ends with knocking down real cobwebs to hang fake ones. But not this year. This year, my 100-year-old-apartment is getting a haunting Halloween makeover.

Skull and webs

My new doorman

Books and Petals

“Spooky” books are essential to the decor

Please note that I do not have roommates, nor do I entertain guests all that often. I’m just doing this to creep myself out, I guess. There’s more to come, and some things will even be handmade. Blame Pinterest.

Day 3: Read a spooky story

I did not watch the debates, because I am not after a real “what is this world coming to” kind of terror. Instead, I reread one of my all-time favorite stories: “Lamb To The Slaughter” by Roald Dahl (part of the collection “Skin,” or you can read it online here). Oh, you didn’t realize your favorite children’s author also wrote creepy stories for adults? Do yourself a favor and check them out. Then re-examine your childhood.

Day 4: “Dead and Undead,” a Social Science Event at the Science Museum of Minnesota

I’m very lucky to have a wonderful and delightfully weird best friend who, when asked, “Instead of taking you out for a nice dinner for your birthday, what if I take you to a science museum and we learn about mummies and zombies?” immediately answered, “MUMMIFIED CHICKENS!”

The Science Museum of Minnesota occasionally has “Social Science” events for the 21+ crowd, and this week’s “Dead and Undead” event was a treat. Lacy and I:

Took this awesome picture in the Lost Egypt exhibit.

Fake camel photo bomb

Photobombed by a fake camel

Saw this guy sewin’ up a squirrel.

Taxidermy on a squirrel

Some people juggle geese.

Became ghosts.

Ghost Rachel

Boo!

Allowed professional makeup artists to do this to our faces.

Zombie face Rachel and Lacy

We later ordered a pizza and were so prepared to freak out the delivery guy. He did not react at all.  Apparently that delivery guy has seen some s***.

Did the “Thriller” dance up the stairs of a museum as zombies.

Lacy doing the Thriller at the Science Museum

‘Cause this is THRILLAAAAAAA!

And of course, saw this mummified chicken.

Mummified Chicken

No birthday is complete without a mummified chicken.

So much more to come. Something Spooky October has just begun! I’ve got a huge to-do list started, but suggestions are welcome. Any great Halloween-y activities out there I just must try?

The Minnesota Vikings, My Pops, and Me

I wrote this last year, but I’m updating and re-posting it in light of yesterday’s huge Vikings win.  I got to experience it in person, at MOA Field, with my pops. It was great – I am still hoarse from cheering, Pops almost clapped once, and the whole day was pretty much everything I love about being a Vikings fan.

I once theorized that my relationship with the Minnesota Vikings is not unlike my relationship with men (why yes, this theory was developed in a bar!): 1) I care very strongly for them; they are basically unaware I exist. 2) I am always looking for a good tight end; they are always looking for a horny blonde.

Vikings Fan

Like that.

3) Eventually I’m going to have to stop pinning all my hopes and dreams on men who wear purple and tight pants and chase each other. 4) And finally, it’s all my father’s fault.

From age 2-6, Bonding With Pops meant watching whatever action movie was on television while falling asleep on the couch. They have fused in my memory into one long action movie I like to call Crocodile Die Hard Jones and the Hunt for the Lethal Weapons Under Siege 2. From ages 7-12, Bonding With Pops meant getting outdoorsy and going camping and fishing. Sadly, this camping tradition ended about when my dad woke up to me burning an entire deck of cards, one at a time. I wish I was kidding; that is super creepy. Ever since, Bonding With Pops has simply involved sports, and it started with the Vikings.

Together, we watched the 1998-1999 season with as much pride (and then overwhelming despair) as the rest of the state, and despite that famous miss, I was hooked. In 2000, Pops took me to the Vikings training camp to watch a scrimmage. The facts say that I was fifteen at the time, but the memories suggest I was closer to seven. I was giddy to be there, with Pops, watching Cris Carter! Robert Smith! JOHN RANDLE! And we were in the front row, somehow; probably because Pops is early for everything (I did not inherit this trait), but at the time I was pretty sure it was because my dad was magic and/or secretly important. I thought this might be the case when he perked up at some announcement and said, “I think that’s my cousin Rod doing the announcing.”

Before I could say, “You have a cousin Rod and why aren’t we using this relationship to get VIP treatment?” The announcer said, “and here comes the quarterback, Cunningham. Uh, I mean Culpepper…” To which the crowd gave a little boo and Pops said, “Yep. That’s Rod alright.” I decided not to follow this lead after all.

Despite needing to be the first person in his seat that day, Pops couldn’t stay in it for long. He got us a bag of popcorn that (again, in my memory) was as big as me, and I was not a small kid. He also ran off and bought me a Cris Carter jersey. Again, I was not a small kid, but Pops overshot it a bit — to this day, we call that my “Cris Carter dress.” I loved it immediately.

After the scrimmage, we went to the autograph line. Pops plopped me next to the gate with my camera and my notebook and disappeared while I gawked, star-struck, as all the pros walked past me and the rookies stopped to sign autographs.

If you’re wondering what kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in a crowd like that, so was I. I finally brought this part of the memory up to my dad last week. “Where did you go?” I asked, thinking he ran away from the crowd to smoke. He stared at me. “I was right behind you,” he said. “I had a hand on each of your shoulders! Don’t you remember? You were the same height as Denny Green!” What kind of father would leave his teenage daughter alone in that crowd? Not mine. You’d think I’d remember being held in place by a large man, but no. There is no large man in my memory other than John Randle. I may be a terrible daughter with a foggy memory of one of the best days of my young life but eh! John Randle!

John Randle

Actual picture that I actually took of the actual John Randle. I am that bad of a photographer, and I was that excited. I’m still proud of this.

That was the last time my dad and I went to a scrimmage. Until yesterday, he did not even own any Vikings apparel (I bought him a purple hat – he’s actually lucky I didn’t buy him one of the helmets with horns), whereas I’ve upped the ante with a “cousin” Adrian Peterson jersey, Robert Smith jersey, Vikings sweatshirt, two or three purple pride t-shirts, and one of those sweet blonde-with-horns hats (I will fool you yet, men). I was banned from The Boys’ apartment after Favre threw the last interception of 2010 and I let out a guttural scream that scared the cats. I went to three games at the Dome last year (all losses). And I once picked a fight in New Orleans, with a Priest, because he was wearing a Drew Brees jersey.

To be a Vikings fan is to be stubborn and proud without reason.  I’m a HUGE Vikings fan, and it’s definitely all my father’s fault.

Love you, Pops.

SKOL VIKINGS!

Rachel and Pops

A Life Full of Color

I spent my day in a cloud of color at The Color Run in Minnesota.

Instagrammed photo of the Color Run

If you think I resisted making “Purple Rain” jokes, you are mistaken.

As a social media volunteer for Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless, this meant running around with my iPhone, snapping pictures and tweeting and Facebooking and generally doing things that actually don’t look that helpful but hopefully are (awareness, you guys!).

The event itself was pretty overwhelming. About 19,000 runners, starting out all in white and eventually turning into human canvasses, ran or walked the course. A portion of their fee was already given to Open Your Heart, but quite a few made extra donations at our booth. And a few of them apologized for the money being covered in color.

That’s Minnesota nice for you.

In preparation, I spent the past week thinking of color. Favorite colors (mine, obviously, are yellow and purple – SKOL Vikings), color quotes (“When in doubt, wear red.” – Bill Blass), color songs (“Lady in Red” is welcome to leave my head anytime now. Anytime.), and color references in movies (“Buddy the Elf, what’s your favorite color?”).  But after participating in the event, and knowing the good these donations will do – going towards the people who truly need them – there’s one song lyric I think sums it all up for me.

What good did it do?
Well hopefully for you
A world without war
A life full of color

Now, I recognize The War Was in Color is not about a war on hunger. But today was a day full of color – and a day to fight hunger.

Let’s all enjoy our lives full of color.

On Reading.

I love books. The way they look on my shelves, the way they destroy my sleep pattern, the way they educate, infuriate and delight me. I love collecting them, sharing them, borrowing them, and (of course) reading them.

I don’t remember the first book I read, although there is a video of me reading one aloud at around age five. My mother, a reader, was impressed enough to film the whole thing; it’s very boring. It would have been more entertaining to watch my childhood best friend and I play-acting The Littles series by building forts (we play-acted everything by building forts). Around that same time, my mother the reader took me out of school, allowed me to wear my best yellow dress, and drove me to The Red Balloon Bookshop to meet Barbara Cooney, the author and illustrator of many of my favorite children’s books, including Miss Rumphius.

I don’t remember as much of the day as I’d like. Mainly I remember Barbara Cooney was very old, around 75 to my 7 years, and had very white hair. And she was nice; so nice that when I wrote to her a few months later, asking if she remembered “the girl in the yellow dress,” she wrote back and assured me she did.  We wrote back and forth for a few years, but unfortunately I didn’t keep it up and we lost touch by the time she passed away. I regret it. I still have that first card, framed now, on my desk.

A few years after I met Barbara Cooney, I met my favorite book in all the world. I was maybe nine, and climbing the furniture in our living room in search of a set of dirty playing cards my brother told me about (my dad’s one contribution to our book shelf, no doubt). I found the cards disguised as a book, wedged next to a dingy, yellowed paperback with a title I recognized – The Princess Bride. I had seen the movie but until then, I didn’t know it had been a real book, and I didn’t take it off the shelf until three years later. And I never put it back.

I have three copies of The Princess Bride now, and if I needed to evacuate my apartment in a hurry I’d still take all three of them.  That first, disintegrating copy, the front cover long missing and the first page – the one that starts “This is my favorite book in all the world, but I have never read it” – has fallen off too, but that I’ve saved in a frame.  The second, a more recent hardcover, the version I read year after year without fear of it falling apart. And the third, a 1973 hardcover signed “To Rachel, As You Wish, William Goldman” – a gift from (who else) my mother, the reader. After life itself and the love of reading, this is probably the best gift she’s ever given me.

In college I became an English major because I loved reading, I loved writing, and also because a nun told me to. I read some classics, like The Brothers Karamazov, The Master and Margarita, Lolita, and some others that weren’t written by Russians, I’m sure. I name those three because I loved them, and recognize their greatness, but I will likely never re-read them. I’m sorry great literature of the past and the future, the top spot in my heart has already been taken. But please, keep trying. There are other little girls out there still in search of their Favorite.

The Princess Bride marked the first time I realized a good story could break the rules (and that’s really what that book is about to me – storytelling). But I’ve gone on long enough about that. I didn’t even intend to mention my Favorite when I started writing this. I just wanted to say how much I love a good story, a good book, because I’ve only just come out of a long period of not reading by finishing another rule-breaking story. It’s not a perfect series, it took me several years to get through all of it, and parts of it made me want to smack Stephen King upside the head, but The Dark Tower series took me on a journey.

I mean, I really hated some of it. I don’t think I ever laughed, but man, did I sob during those last few hundred pages. I love crying at books. I never knew what was going to happen, and frankly I could not explain what it was about even if you had also just finished reading it. As far as books about stories go, these seven (okay, there are eight now – the man actually wrote another one in the series in the time it took me to read the seventh) make up a dense journey full of broken rules. They’re still not my Favorite and never will be, but they are my brother’s, and that’s as good an accomplishment as any for Sai King.

I guess what I’m really saying here is I’ve finished another book. What should I read next?

Social/Life

A while back, I went to a totally not embarrassing concert and mused about what the experience would have been like if I’d been able to “live-Tweet” during it. Would it take away from the experience, or would it add to it? At the time, I didn’t have a smartphone, so sharing the experience while it was happening was not an option. Well, now I have one, and after figuring out the basics I’ve managed to become a slight oversharer.

Instagrammed photo of bird poop on my car

“I appear to have deeply offended a large bird.”  Okay, a huge oversharer.

I keep making vague promises to myself that I’ll settle down, but the honeymoon phase between me and my new friend Siri has overlapped with the start of summer. Like any true Minnesotan, I’m not about to let this all-too-brief season slip by. What people in less volatile climates do in a year, I’m going to try to do in three months.

That’s not anything new; last summer, you may recall, I did plenty of things. The difference is now I can share my nonsense in real time.

I think we can all agree this might not always be a good thing.

Dog of Censorship

Someone needs to invent a “Dog of Censorship” App ASAP.

Anyway. Last Saturday, I took myself to another totally not embarrassing concert at the Target Center: Aerosmith. And because I love Aerosmith for no and beyond all reason, my guess from last year’s NKOTBSB concert was not far off – once Steven Tyler hit the stage, I basically just went “Squeee!” and forgot about the ability to share/brag beyond one fairly good picture:

Steven Tyler Instagram

Instagram gets the save on this one.  Some of that confetti is still in my purse.

That (amazing) experience over, I thought I’d answered my own question about how I’d use social media at events. I’d managed to do some sharing while staying in the (really amazing) moment. And anyway, I’d blown my summer budget on that (really, REALLY amazing) ticket, so I didn’t expect to get the chance to try it out again for a while.

Less than 24 hours later, I found myself enjoying some Trampled By Turtles from the comfort of the terrace view at Target Field. Since I didn’t know about the bonus concert until I got to the Twins game, and since I was an hour early for the game thanks to my pops, I had to share the news of my good fortune.

All the mascots at the Twins Game

I was too disturbed by the presence of literally all the mascots to take a picture of TBT, however.

This caused a tiny uproar amongst some die-hard TBT fans I call my friends, but more importantly, it made my pops wonder why I kept looking at my phone. As much fun as it would have been to keep spreading the joy/jealousy of a bonus concert (not to mention a 15-inning baseball game), it was more fun to enjoy Father’s Day with my pops. (We actually only made it through 11 innings and I did respond to a few messages, but hey. We tried.)

After determining that “losing your mind to your favorite band” and “hanging out with your father” are not quite the right times to go live-Tweeting, social-sharing crazy, I struck upon a much better opportunity: the River’s Edge Music Festival in St. Paul on Saturday.

I managed to win free tickets* last week and took Lacy, another twenty-something with a smartphone, and we did it all. We admired the lead singer of Coheed and Cambria‘s magical hair. We blew our budgets on outrageously overpriced beer. We held a few inebriated souls upright in the Sublime with Rome crowd. We soaked in some much needed sun rays to the tunes of Blaqstarr. We lost our voices to Tool. We Facebooked, Instagrammed, Tweeted, sang and danced.

We shared a wonderful day with each other, and then we shared jokes about it on the internet. And that, #youguys, is the best balance of social media and social life I’ve found yet.

girls who look like girls

Just your average Tool fans.

*I won 2 single-day tickets through a Twitter contest, which is awesome. However, the publication which ran the contest was non-responsive about how to get my tickets until two days before the concert despite three attempts to contact them, then they told me (twice) to pick up my tickets at will-call at the River Centre (which is a place in St. Paul, but has nothing to do with the River’s Edge Festival). Finally, the tickets, which were not at the regular will-call at the event either but rather at the media tent, were not for “either day” as promised, but for Sunday only. Luckily two very nice Live Nation employees took my declaration that “75 minutes of Tool is infinitely better than 3 hours of Dave Matthews Band” seriously, and switched the tickets for me. Despite this rant, I did get in completely free, so thank you, Live Nation; less of a thank you, publication with really poor communication/customer service skills.

From The Archives: My Birthday Is Served

(A true story from just before my 22nd birthday.)

This doesn’t happen every day, and it doesn’t happen to everybody.  It only happens to me.

My birthday buddy and I went out for ice cream and exchanged gifts yesterday evening.  My present included silly putty, bouncy balls, a hacky sack, play dough and – my favorite – a koosh ball.  Hers is a “Happy Hour” sign and some champagne-shaped chocolates.  Guess which one of us is older.

When I got to my house, my mom was home.  I showed her my present and started playing with my koosh ball when she told me a man had been by to see me just then.

Oh?

Yes, he’d been by to see me and he’d dropped off some papers.

And what do these papers say?

Oh, just that I’m being sued for fifty thousand dollars.

...Well.

Clearly this problem cannot be solved by koosh.

Apparently, someone with my name is having some legal issues over a three-year-old car accident, and I was served her summons to appear in court.  Our legal system at work.  I read the papers and started to laugh, then said, “This isn’t funny!”  My mom laughed back and said “No, it’s not!”  Then we both laughed some more.

So tomorrow morning I have to call some lawyers and explain that I did not, in fact, cause an accident in the cities in 2002 (when I was barely able to drive out of my driveway, by the way), and I will be paying no one $50,000.  Then I will ask him how difficult the legal process is to change my name to something slightly less common.  I’m thinking Shaquana, Decadence, or Bob.  Not a lot of girl Bobs out there.  The world needs more.

But hey, I’m not bitter.  Not everyone can say, “Remember that time I went out for ice cream and got sued for fifty thousand dollars?”

This doesn’t happen every day, and it doesn’t happen to everybody.  It only happens to Bob.

The Feast of St. Patrick: Another Essay from the Archives

This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote for an English class in 2007. On an unrelated note, it was written for one of those professors you initially can’t stand but appreciate so much after the fact. She passed away just about two years later, but sometimes I still hear her barking “clichéd! clichéd! clichéd!” That’s one way to get me to aim for originality over perfection in everything.

I was baking bread in my roommate’s casserole dish for the third time in a week when my mother called to wish me a happy St. Patrick’s Day. Thanking her, I asked about how long, in her experience, Irish soda bread needed to bake. It was the only step of the recipe I had failed to memorize and never would, no matter how many loaves I made in my lifetime.

“About 45 minutes to an hour,” she responded. When I pointed out that this range could be the difference between the perfect loaf and a kitchen fire, she told me to stab the center with a knife. I glanced at the already pockmarked top of my loaf and thanked her for the advice.

Bread-stabbing is a habit learned from my mother, just a generation away from becoming a tradition. She also taught me to immediately serve one quarter of a fresh loaf of Irish soda bread. I cut a quarter of my casserole-shaped soda bread into slices before remembering I was the only person in my apartment.

One-quarter loaf for the one-quarter Irish, I thought as I took a bite. Sugary and dotted with raisins, it tasted like nothing my Irish ancestors would ever recognize. It connected me only to my mother, and she to the grandfather I never met. His name was Patrick, and I’d often wondered if that was by choice or just the general rule for males born on March 17 in Ireland.

As I was working my way through my third slice of soda bread, my roommate came home. I shoved the plate of bread slices at her and sighed.

“What are you doing tonight?” I asked.

It was a Saturday and St. Patrick’s Day, so I was shocked when she said, “Stay home and sleep.”

She said she felt left out on St. Patrick’s Day because she’s not Irish. I pointed out that we lived in the middle of Minnesota, land of Scandinavians, and almost no one we knew was Irish.

“Yeah,” she said, “But everyone can tell I’m not Irish.”

When my roommate fills out the race/ethnicity portion of surveys, she checks Latina, Asian, and Caucasian. It bothers her to be told that the first two cancel out the last; it bothers me that I have to skip all of the interesting entries just for the last. I was surprised to find her jealous of something that, for once, fell under the scope of my white bread heritage, but I understand the need to check that third identity.

Because of an obsession with genealogy, I have divided myself into fractions. Rather than a pie-chart, I am a Rachel-chart. This leg is Irish, this one is Acadian. My toes are German, my ears a throwback to “a Micmac Indian woman” who dead-ends my family tree. It is a mix that is uniquely mine, and yet rather than make me diverse it has watered-down my sense of heritage. I am a child of the melting pot; I have no single culture to embrace as my own. Instead, I have a half-remembered recipe for a simple variation of white bread.

On what would have been my grandfather’s 95th birthday, I once again ate Irish soda bread and imagined what it would be like to meet him and ask him just one question. As I stared at the remaining three-quarter loaf of Irish soda bread, and I knew I would ask him how it felt to be celebrated whole.

This ends the flashback essay series. Tomorrow, I will be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, my grandfather Patrick’s 100th birthday, and the wonderful thing it is to be Irish-American.

Luck of the Norwegian: An Essay from the Archives 2

This was written about St. Patrick’s Day 2009 – a memorable but odd one for sure:

I got my St. Patrick’s kicks in a little early this year, choosing to make bad decisions on a Saturday rather than a Tuesday.  Does that make it a good decision?  Call it a wash.  Anyway, my weekend was great, aside from the parts where I felt like dying.  The other parts were too much fun, and I would do those parts again (which pretty much means I’ll do the “feel like dying” parts again, too).

The actual St. Patrick’s day was going to be low-key, but ended up pretty bizarre.  First of all, there were drunk nuns before noon.  Always entertaining.  Then there was a phone call from my mom, letting me know my dad was in the hospital because of a work accident (found a chlorine gas leak with his face), but he didn’t want me to come home because I should “stay there and make money.”  I never listen to my dad; he never makes sense.  So instead, I spent about two and a half hours in the ICU, watching my pops take in oxygen and watch NCIS.  It was exactly like hanging out with my dad at home, except with a few extra tubes and wires.

Around seven, the doctor checked dad’s O2 levels and sent us all home, telling him not to smoke for a few days because it would irritate the acid in his lungs.  The acid in his lungs.  I take that to mean “don’t smoke because IT WILL MAKE YOU BLOW UP,” and dad takes it to mean “Gonna smoke anyway, because I like a challenge.”  My dad: surviving things he shouldn’t for half a century.

And that’s how I ended my St. Patrick’s day: watching my dad watch NCIS (at home this time) and thinking not about my Irish ancestors, but my Norwegian ones, and wondering if I might inherit some of their luck.  And their ridiculously hearty lungs.

Note: Dad’s lungs are not quite so hearty anymore, but I am so incredibly proud of the work he’s put into quitting smoking in the past few months. Love you Pops! Keep taking care of yourself so I can keep writing jokes about you.